Saturday, August 22, 2009

August 22, 1893: Dorothy Parker's Birthday!

Dorothy Parker was born today!  Yes, it happened at her family’s summerhouse in Long Branch, New Jersey, but her parents got her back to their Manhattan home just after Labor Day, so she’s all right.  The poet, critic, short story writer, and screenwriter remained a New Yorker until1934, when she moved to Los Angeles to become a screenwriter.  Yet for all of her life she remained as sparklingly, grimly witty as New Yorkers come. 

Shortly after landing a job as theater critic for Vanity Fair in 1919, Parker founded the Algonquin Round Table (which she later referred to as the “Vicious Circle”), a group of writers and editors who met for lunch at the Algonquin Hotel.  The group met almost daily from 1919 to 1929, and would undoubtedly have celebrated today with no shortage of highballs and wisecracks.  

Parker was successful in everything she tried, except, as she made so well known, relationships.  (Her success as a screenwriter was only surpassed by her success as a left-wing political advocate, which got her blacklisted and ended her Hollywood career, sending her back to New York--but that's another story.)  The Portable Dorothy Parker was published in 1944 by Viking Press, for servicemen stationed oversees.  It is the only “portable” anthology beside Shakespeare and the Bible to remain continuously in print.   

Laurel Billings, EVHP Staff

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